It is no secret that year 2020 was a good year (if not the best…) for companies selling home exercise equipment. With shortage in supply like never before, home workout equipment can nowadays be considered as a commodity.
Well… make sense when we didn’t really have any other choice except working-out from home during lockdown days. And even if you didn’t really exercised before the pandemic days, I bet by now you have some kind of home exercise equipment you purchased online, or else you had to be creative with whatever you had home at that time…
Perhaps you embraced the new way of working out from home using some props or just your own body weight. Either way, for both beginners and also the more advanced – it is great to have the option to exercise everywhere. Maintaining a good shape and improving your fitness skills can be done also from the comfort of your home.
To make your home workouts more enjoyable, challenging and effective, I listed here my top 5 props, which I believe to be the best home exercise equipment for beginners as well as advanced. With so many workout routines you can do with each one of it, you’d realize very quickly that it’s more than enough for embarking on your fitness journey, to cross-train your regular routines or simply have the option to workout also from home.
As you probably noticed, there are many fitness “toys” in the market, but if I really need to hand-pick the top and best ones; simple, affordable and effective, for all levels, it would be:
1.The Swiss ball , also known in different names like Fit-ball, Physio-ball, etc., is the most cost effective prop and my ultimate choice to work with at home! If there is one prop I would tell you not not to get cheap on, it’s the Swiss ball. Safety reason is first, but this simple prop will also allow for the greatest variety of exercises.
You can use the ball in so many ways for your workout, but the main function of the ball is to provide an unstable base of support, thus challenging your stabilizers and core muscles even more. You can use it also to place the body in different positions to increase the range of motion of the moving joints. Also, you can use it as a weight, holding the ball between the arms or legs.
One of the best ways to use the ball is for stretching and for executing core muscles exercises.
I highly recommend to purchase a good quality Swiss-ball, for safety reasons as well. A good ball will last for years, and you’ll enjoy it more than you could ever imagine.
Here’s one of the most favorable sessions on my YouTube channel, using the Swiss ball for stretching. Enjoy 😉
2. Free Weights and/or Kettlebells, will help you tone-up and strengthen your body. You can definitely strengthen your body using just your own body weight, but the added weights will help you reach those muscles that are hard to activate using only body weight, and it will also provide more variety to your strength routine.
Working with Kettlebells require more guidance and professional instruction, as there are some specific exercises you wanna be cautious with like the swing, Clean and Press, Turkish Get-up and more. You can substitute many of the dumbbells exercises with Kettlebells, like shoulder press bent-over row, but there are many exercises you’d be better off executing with regular dumbbells like the Fly, Shoulder Abduction, etc. So if you need to choose between the two, my advice is to start off with sets of dumbbells and maybe later on progress to the kettlebells.
Here is a strength workout routine using dumbbells. Enjoy 😉
3. Foam Roller is a great prop for Self Myofascial Release, or simply put “self massage”! Realign the body, mobilize and stretch. Before your workout is it recommended to release and stretch the tight muscles. You can also use the foam roller for a full session of just massaging and stretching on rest days. Another great way to use it is for core and stability exercises. Here’s a short session using the foam roller to improve slouched posture.
4. Resistance Bands are the #1 prop to take with you on a trip. They don’t take any space, barley weigh… The resistance bands come in many shapes and colors, but they are all here for one main goal- to add resistance and contract the working muscles! Strengthening and toning up your body can be achieved with simple resistance bands.
When working with the resistance bands, we need to consider the anchor point of it, for effectively activating the target muscles. We’re not going to talk kinesiology here, but it can be very tricky when working with the bands… a good trainer should know well how to manipulate and be creative enough to work the intended muscles, otherwise there’s no pointe of incorporating the bands.
Another use of the bands is for stretching, for example when in supine position (on your back) holding the leg up straight, with the band around the foot, for stretching the hamstring… When attempting to stretch with these bands, it is preferred that the bands are on the tighter/heavy side, so it is less “giving” when trying to hold the leg up there for a stretch. You can also find in the market special tight bands that are not so stretchy and especially for flexibility work.
Here is a short Pilates session incorporating the resistance band. Enjoy 😉
5. Last for this list is the Stick! And you probably ask yourself “what can I possibly do with a stick?!” well… you might be surprised but this simple stick can easily become your favorite prop!
In fact, this is the first prop I use when training my clients, before loading with dumbbells. It is a very helpful tool to provide tactile feedback to correct alignment and therefore also improve posture! In addition, it is a great tool for supporting the body when mobilizing and stretching and when executing advanced strength exercises.
Here’s a short fun and relaxing stretch routine using a stick. Enjoy 😉
To sum up all this… There are many props and machines out there, that will more likely to leave you confused as of what’s best for you, and whether it’s worth the investment or not. Depends on your goals, needs and space, I will highly recommend starting simple and with minimum equipment. Pick one or two things to start with, be consistent, get into a workout routine, and then “reward” yourself with another new “toy” 😉